NEW YORK – The Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan, is forging ahead with a planned ecumenical prayer rally opposing abortion legislation on the state’s ballot next week despite outside actors sabotaging the event’s online registration system.

The rally, titled “Fight like Heaven” is scheduled for this Sunday, Nov. 6, to “pray for the defeat of Proposal 3.” If passed, Proposal 3 would enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution.

The diocese had set up an online registration system for the event to gauge how many people planned to attend to allow the event organizers to adequately prepare the venue.

According to the diocese, a few days ago they realized that many of the registrations were fake and coming from outside of Michigan. This caused the event to “sell out” online, limiting their ability to gauge how many genuinely interested people registered.

The “cyber-attack” came from individuals with IP addresses from cities including Portland, Ore., Boston, Chicago, and New York City, the diocese said in a Nov. 3 statement. Many of the phony registrations were disguised, the statement added, appearing to come from pro-life organizations, though some came from domains associated with abortion clinics.

The diocese has since closed the registration and will not require it for the event. Instead, they will estimate the attendance, a diocese of Saginaw official told Crux.

Bishop Robert Gruss of Saginaw alleged that the sabotage attempt shows that there are people “from outside of our state who want to influence our state constitution through Proposal 3.”

“Just last week, The Detroit News reported that more than $20 million in funding for Proposal 3 came from six people and/or organizations located in New York, California and Washington D.C.,” Gruss said in a Nov. 3 statement.

The text of Proposal 3 is structured like other state constitution abortion amendments. It reads that the state may regulate abortion access after fetal viability – the point that a fetus can survive outside of the womb; approximately 24 weeks into a pregnancy – unless a healthcare professional deems the procedure is necessary to protect the mother’s physical or mental health.

Opponents of the amendment argue that the vague description of “physical or mental health” without any added detail means abortion would be legal through childbirth.

Michigan incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, stated her support for the amendment while recently answering a question on Proposal 3 from a local news station, saying “enshrining women’s ability to make their own decisions about their body’s … is really important.”

Answering the same question, Whitmer’s opponent in the Michigan governor race, Republican Tudor Dixon, called Proposal 3 “extreme,” explaining that it has no restrictions, doesn’t include parental consent, and doesn’t define that you have to be a degreed medical professional to perform and abortion.

Cyngal, a self-described center-right polling institute, has Proposal 3 passing with a slight majority of 52 percent.

Gruss, meanwhile, is confident in how things will shake out on election day.

“My hope and prayer is that this attempt to sabotage our prayer event will backfire, and instead motivate people to join us,” Gruss said. “Michigan women and children deserve better than the unjust Proposal 3.”

Last month, Gruss and the other six Michigan bishops sent a letter to the faithful urging them to vote no on Proposal 3. They also emphasized that if the amendment passes “there would be no real limits on abortion or sterilization procedures in Michigan,” and noted how it “goes well beyond what was allowed in Roe v. Wade.

“We cannot create a world where abortion is unthinkable without also creating a world in which families receive the support they need,” the bishops wrote. “In addition to opposing Proposal 3, we call for your renewed dedication to supporting women in need who may find themselves involved in difficult pregnancies or crisis situations.”

“With prayer, compassion and material support, the Catholic Church – through its agencies and lay faithful – must be willing to walk with women in need to support them, their children, and their families – before, during and after pregnancy,” they continued. “Let us come together to protect human life and promote the dignity of women and children by voting NO on Proposal 3.”

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